by Rita Rubin
Trying to recall what it felt like, not so long ago, to rock her daughter in her arms, singing lullabies off-key, the mother sighed. To reassure herself - to deceive herself? - that the girl still needed her as much as ever, the mother gently smoothed her sleeping daughter's tousled blonde tresses. Although the girl stirred, she did not wake. Glancing at the packed footlocker, whose contents she had memorized and neatly labeled, the mother felt older than she ever had. She tried not to think about the leave-taking, only a few hours away, and wondered whether she would be able to hold back the tears. The early morning light began to creep around the window shades, and the mother padded back to her own bedroom, acquainting herself with the silence.
Rita Rubin, a long-time newspaper reporter, has discovered in middle age that she also likes to make things up. She lives with her husband and two daughters in the Washington, D.C. area.